It would be somewhat gradiose of me to call the following moments, people and records "defining", but they gave me as much joy as other, more private events over the last 12 months - y'know the moments with friends that could probably properly called "defining" in years to come.
Anyway, here goes...
- A warm Spring day in Nottingham and we're in the Fellows, Morton and Clayton. Friends from Sheffield, London, Lincolnshire and London are drinking nervously, as we learn that Chester City have won their early kick-off game. We manage to persuade Jamie to forego his trademark burger and chips and join us on the walk to Meadow Lane to watch Grimsby play Notts County in a nervy, vital game that Town now had to win. County seemed to forget that it wasn't 1982 and that you could really only let as many people through the turnstiles as seats there were in the away seating section. There are four arse cheeks on some seats. Others are standing, singing and swaying.
The atmosphere is raucous, defiant and exciting. The six or seven pints we've had beforehand help tremendously, but Town are immediately penned back by wave after wave of County attacks. Still, we hold out 'til half time, and in the second half Town are reborn as a stubborn fighting unit and score about ten minutes in.
Still County pour forward, but Town score again about fifteen minutes later and the people around me go wild. The bonhomie around me is immense. Even Jamie stops moaning about his missed burger and joins in. Beating County 2-0 was probably the most important moment of last season's jittery road to Football League survival. Town need many more moments like that over the next four and half months.
Afterwards we sit outside the pub and mull over a great result. It's one of those days that just seemed to go on forever, even though I went home at about seven. Who needs days out at the hideous new Wembley stadium when you have episodes like this?
- Discovering bands like This Many Boyfriends is a rare treat. I've gone on about them recently, so I shan't expand at any great length. But the sheer enthusiasm of this lot from Leeds is one of the very, very few things that makes me want to be in my early twenties again. Next year's Standard Fare? Probably.
- Talking of whom... Standard Fare were this year's Standard Fare. I first saw them play in Spring at Sumac, and they blew me away. At the all-dayer in November they stole the show, and managed to charm a whole new audience. Their album, 'The Noyelle Beat', will, I'm sure, propel them away from the like of us next year, but who cares? If anyone deserves success and money and things like that from playing music to people, then it's these three - a trio more cutely unassuming you'd be hard pressed to find.
- Perhaps it's because they're not Londoners, but I seem to have forgotten how the summer, for me, really belonged to The Specific Heats. A splendid midweek, pre-Indietracks weekend show in Nottingham merely hinted at the literally explosive set in the church at the festival itself.
The Specific Heats have it all: amazing garageindiepop tunes; capes; good looks; and MarissafromTheBesties (RIP). Here's hoping they can come over here again next year.
- Album of the year for me is between The Afternoon Naps 'Parade' and Pocketbooks' 'Flight Paths', but Pocketbooks just edge it because of their live shows. Okay, so I've never actually seen t'Naps (but I'm open to offers if they need shows in a dull UK provincial town), but Pocketbooks are The Best Live Band I've Seen in the UK in 2009. I'm sure they're delighted with that prize, yeah...
'Flight Paths' brough together a hundred amazing drunken memories from shows and nights out from the last two years, and concentrated them all into one flawless album. For that I'll always be grateful.
Honourable mentions this year go to Northern Portrait, The Crayon Fields, The Electric Pop Group, Horowitz, Shrag, Mascot Fight, The School, Tender Trap, Allo Darlin', The Hillfields, Give It Ups, and probably loads of others I've forgotten. Onwards, comrades!
If it's possible to pick such a thing (and it probably isn't), then I think I'd have to pick The Specific Heats' 'End of an Error' as my song of the year. Have a listen.